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Bremerton school bus driver reflects on 20 years of work
On a warm, bright spring afternoon, Bremerton school bus driver Scott Collette pulls up No. 29 to the curb behind Mountain View Middle School.
“I spend eight hours a day driving this beastie,” he said.
This school year, Collette marked his 20th anniversary of driving for the Bremerton district. It’s just another year for Collette, who’s also an active union member, doing what he can to help people.
Outside, children are streaming out of Mountain View. Collette swings open the screechy door and about 30 children climb up by ones and twos, some sweaty and shrieking.
Collette says hello to each child and checks in with them.
“How are you?” he asks one little girl.
“I’m fine, I finished my book,” she says.
“What did you have, 70 pages to go? Good job,” he says.
As students come in, he clicks off with a counter until they’re all accounted for and in their assigned seats.
Before taking off, Collete pats the dashboard.
“Why did you pat the bus, Mr. Scotty?” asks Breiana Kerhberg, an eighth-grader.
“I’m thanking the bus before we go,” Collete responds.
Kerhberg sits in the seat behind Collette and serves as an enforcer, turning around and passing along instructions to kids misbehaving. “Shut that window!” “No cussing!”
Another eighth-grader, Jasmine Murphy, shares Kerbherg’s seat.
“I’ve never had a bus driver take the time to learn our names,” Murphy said.
At each stop, children hop off the bus with a “Goodbye, Mr. Scotty!”
Once all the children are off, Collette shuts off the Top 40 radio station he doesn’t care for, but uses as an incentive to keep kids behaving.
Collette read a study once that found 7 percent of children are bullies and 14 percent are victims. “And the rest just want to get home after school,” he said.
So Collette keeps his school bus as orderly a place as possible. He plays Top 40 radio stations on the intercom, though he doesn’t much care for the latest Rihanna or Flo Rida tracks, because kids start misbehaving if he shuts it off.
Collette also watches out for people’s interests as president of the Bremerton district’s chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
In the past few years, he’s seen classified staff face shrinking budgets.
“Custodians are asked to cover more territory ever year transportation, we have a really tight operation technology, those people are running 100 miles an hour,” he said.
He’s also volunteered with juvenile courts as an advocate for abused children.
“I’ve always felt I needed to protect the little guy,” Collete said.